Get ready to celebrate Sussex Day

Sussex Day is held on June 16 each year to celebrate the rich heritage and culture of our great county and is a great way to showcase our landscape attractions and local produce.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 12:28 pm

There is so much to explore in Sussex with its diverse landscape offering everything from stunning cliff-top walks, river estuaries, beautiful beaches and the rolling hills of the Sussex Downs national park.

You can visit cathedrals and remarkable ancient monuments and castles or take in the bustle of a busy and vibrant city with a trip to Brighton.

Sussex contains many nationally important areas for wildlife. The vegetated shingle beaches at Rye Harbour support six nationally scarce species including the critically endangered red hemp-nettle.

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Sussex also provides a slice of culinary heaven for foodies.

There has never been a better time to experience a taste of Sussex with more restaurants, pubs and shops and outlets now looking to use locally sourced sustainable produce.

We have cheese-makers, artisan bakers and organic growers all working hard to showcase what can be produced here in the county.

If you like a tipple and want to keep it local there is an abundant choice. As well as Sussex vineyards producing acclaimed English wines, we now have at least two gins made in Sussex and a spiced rum.

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Carr Taylor vineyard in Sussex became the first English wine producer in England to export sparkling wine to France - the equivalent of selling coals to Newcastle.

There are a number of cider makers across the county and Sussex also boasts the largest selection of independently produced ciders in the country at the National Cider Collection, housed in a barn at Middle Farm near Lewes. Visitors can enjoy tasters of the cider as well as Sussex mead and wines.

Not so long ago there were only two independent brewers producing real ale in Sussex – Harveys in the East and Horsham-based King and Barnes in the west. Now there are more than 100 small independent breweries offering a huge selection of different types of beer, including seasonal beers brewed with flowers and fruit foraged from hedgerows near the brewery.

The Long Man brewery, near Wilmington, even grows its own barley on the Sussex Downs to brew its award-winning beers, as well as using Sussex grown hops. Any spent grain is fed to livestock. Sussex producers are celebrated at the annual Sussex Food and Drink Awards.

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So with all this going on it is no wonder we need a special day to celebrate our county. But how did it come about?

The idea of Sussex Day came from Worthing resident Ian Steedman who in 2006 suggested the idea to politician Henry Smith, at the time leader of West Sussex County Council.

Smith liked the idea and West Sussex County Council officially recognised the day in 2007.

Since 2013, the Sussex Martlets Flag is flown in each of the six ancient Rapes, or sub-divisions of Sussex on Sussex Day.

Hastings Old Town. Fishing Boats on Hastings Fishermen's Beach. 16/4/10

The event takes place on St Richard’s Day, the feast day of St Richard of Chichester, the patron saint of Sussex.

The flag is hoisted over the Council House in Chichester, from Maltravers Street in Arundel, from St Nicholas’ Church in Bramber, from Lewes Castle, from St Nicholas’ Church in Pevensey, and from Hastings Castle; each representing their respective historic division of Sussex.

This Sussex Day, West Sussex Record Office and Screen Archive South East will be hosting a free online event at 7pm called West Sussex Unwrapped Live: South Downs National Park.

This virtual event is a special opportunity to get up close and personal with unique documents and film footage telling the story of the magnificent South Downs National Park and to hear from the archivists and curators who care for these collections. Viewers will be able to go on a journey to see how the South Downs has developed and changed over the centuries, and experience detailed drawings by famous landscape designer Humphrey Repton; follow actress and author Nancy Price’s campaign to protect this unique landscape; see Land Girls bringing in the wheat harvest, as well as viewing what is probably the oldest surviving film of West Sussex.

West Sussex Unwrapped Live starts at 7pm on Wednesday, June 16, and will last for around one hour. It will be held via Zoom and bookings can be made through Eventbrite by searching for ‘West Sussex Unwrapped’.

Sussex has had its fair share of famous people. Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling lived in the village of Burwash and his former home is now a National Trust property.

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Max Miller, known as ‘The Cheeky Chappie’, was an English comedian and widely regarded as the greatest stand-up comedian of his generation. He was born and died in Brighton, where there is a statue of him in the Pavilion Gardens.

Modernist writer Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) and her husband Leonard, had a country retreat at Monk’s House in Rodmell near Lewes from 1919, where they received many important visitors connected to the Bloomsbury Group, including T. S. Eliot, and E. M. Forster.

Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) spent the last thirty years of his life in Crowborough, while Winnie-the-Pooh creator A A Milne lived in Ashdown Forest for much of his life and set many of his stories in the forest.

Sussex has many iconic landmarks from Battle Abbey, built by William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings, to the distinctive onion domes of Brighton Pavilion. A unique landmark is the Long Man of Wilmington, a giant hill figure, holding two staves, carved out of the chalk of the Downs between Eastbourne and Lewes.

Other than Battle Abbey, important Norman architecture in Sussex includes Chichester Cathedral, the ruins of Lewes Priory, as well as Norman remains in the castles at Arundel, Bramber, Lewes, Pevensey and Hastings.

Fine examples of 20th century modernist architecture include the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill and the Chichester Festival Theatre.

One of the most imposing Sussex landmarks has to be Arundel Castle. With a history dating back to 1067, The castle boasts many of its original features including the Norman keep.

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